Ren­ton pleads not guilty to protest-re­lated charge

The Timaru Herald - - FRONT PAGE - HAN­NAH BARTLETT

Medic­i­nal cannabis cam­paigner Rose Ren­ton has pleaded not guilty to an of­fen­sive be­hav­iour charge, re­lated to a protest at the Nel­son Mar­ket.

Charges were laid fol­low­ing an in­ci­dent last year where thenEn­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Nick Smith al­legedly had rat poi­son hurled at him at the mar­ket. In Septem­ber, Nel­son MP Smith said pro­test­ers had thrown and rubbed rat poi­son on him while he was at his Na­tional Party car­a­van at the Satur­day mar­kets.

Ren­ton en­tered a not guilty plea to the of­fen­sive be­hav­iour charge on Mon­day in the Nel­son District Court, and will be back in court on May 11 for a de­fended hear­ing.

Fol­low­ing the re­ported inci- dent, medic­i­nal cannabis cam­paigner Ren­ton pub­licly ad­mit­ted in­volve­ment, stat­ing she had been mak­ing a ‘‘sym­bolic state­ment’’ against the Brook Val­ley poi­son drop. How­ever she de­nied Smith’s al­le­ga­tion that she rubbed poi­son in his face.

Smith said on Mon­day he had con­fi­dence in both the po­lice and court sys­tem. ‘‘The charge of of­fen­sive be­hav­iour is very low or­der and only comes with the po­ten­tial for a fine.’’

The al­leged in­ci­dent co­in­cided with the first of three drops of bait laced with the poi­son brod­i­fa­coum at the Brook Waimarama Sanc­tu­ary, near Nel­son.

Ren­ton is the mother of Nel­son teenager Alex Ren­ton who was the first Kiwi to be treated with im­ported medic­i­nal cannabis. He died in July 2015.

New deputy for NZ First

NZ First deputy leader Ron Mark has been rolled by his cau­cus col­league Fletcher Tabuteau. Tabuteau, 43, has been with the party since the be­gin­ning and his Tau­ranga busi­ness­man un­cle, Tom Gear, is a close friend of party leader Win­ston Peters. ’’Af­ter care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion, the cau­cus to­day sup­ported Fletcher Tabuteau to take over the role, and I con­grat­u­late him on this ap­point­ment as deputy leader,’’ Peters said. ‘‘New Zealand First ex­tends its im­mense grat­i­tude for the ser­vice of Ron Mark as deputy leader. The party recog­nises Ron is an in­te­gral mem­ber of the team and we look for­ward to him play­ing a key role in the cur­rent govern­ment in his ca­pac­ity as Min­is­ter of De­fence and Min­is­ter of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs.’’

Warn­ing on ec­stasy

A dodgy batch of ec­stasy that left 13 peo­ple in hos­pi­tal was likely sup­plied at a mu­sic fes­ti­val. Health of­fi­cials sent out a warn­ing on Sun­day af­ter nine pa­tients ar­rived in Christchurch Hos­pi­tal at the week­end pre­sent­ing with symp­toms and side ef­fects as­so­ci­ated with hav­ing taken an MDMA-con­tain­ing sub­stance, more com­monly known as ec­stasy. Four more pa­tients went to hos­pi­tal on Mon­day. The pa­tients were aged between 15 and 27. De­tec­tive In­spec­tor Greg Murton said the drugs were most likely sup­plied at Elec­tric Av­enue, held in Ha­gley Park on Satur­day with about 13,000 peo­ple at­tend­ing. He said the pills were ‘‘very easy to con­ceal’’, leav­ing or­gan­is­ers lit­tle hope of pick­ing them up. Murton said most peo­ple tak­ing the drug had ‘‘no idea what’s in it’’. Christchurch Hos­pi­tal emer­gency depart­ment con­sul­tant Dr Suzanne Hamil­ton said ear­lier a faulty batch may be re­spon­si­ble as the ad­mis­sions hap­pened in a short space of time and in one place. ‘‘It re­in­forces the fact that you can never be sure ex­actly what is in an il­lic­itly sup­plied drug, and that the ef­fects on your health can be se­vere and long-last­ing, even fa­tal.’’’

Cat­tle on con­ser­va­tion land

The Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion is un­sure how an area of the Tak­itimu Con­ser­va­tion Area will re­cover af­ter a farmer al­lowed cat­tle to graze there il­le­gally. DOC said about 380 cows were in part of the con­ser­va­tion area for about two weeks last year. In a state­ment on Mon­day, DOC said Wairaki Sta­tion Ltd was sen­tenced in the In­ver­cargill District Court on Fe­bru­ary 20 af­ter ad­mit­ting one charge of ‘‘know­ing and with­out au­thor­ity car­ry­ing out an ac­tiv­ity, namely farming op­er­a­tions, on a con­ser­va­tion area’’. Fines of $52,450 were im­posed. DOC act­ing op­er­a­tions man­ager John McCar­roll said the Tak­itimu Con­ser­va­tion Area had sig­nif­i­cant con­ser­va­tion val­ues and the cat­tle caused con­sid­er­able dam­age and im­pacts in­clud­ing stock track­ing, heavy pug­ging of stream ri­par­ian mar­gins and wet ar­eas, and veg­e­ta­tion ef­fects. ‘‘How well this area re­cov­ers is un­known at this stage.’’

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